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U.S. Treasury blacklists Al-Zawraa

TV channel allegedly fueled Iraqi insurgents

BAGHDAD — Syrian-based television channel Al-Zawraa, owned by disgraced former Iraqi politician Mishaan al-Jabouri, has been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury for allegedly fueling insurgent activity in Iraq.

The U.S. has claimed that Al-Zawraa broadcast messages through patriotic songs to the Islamic Army of Iraq, the country’s most powerful Sunni insurgent movement which Washington labels a terrorist group.

The Treasury said the channel broadcasts graphic videos of insurgent attacks on troops in Iraq and urges Iraqis to fight U.S. forces.

The Sunni Jabouri, a former member of the Iraqi parliament, admitted that his channel incites Iraqis to fight “American occupation,” but said he has no idea why he was blacklisted.

“Al-Zawraa broadcasts for all the Iraqi resistance movements and it incited Iraqis to fight the (U.S.) occupation,” he said after the U.S. Treasury’s Jan. 9 announcement blacklisting him and his channel and freezing his assets.

“I do not know the reasons for this action. They say that I incite terrorism. Did not the Americans and French people resist occupation?”

Elected in December 2005, Jabouri was expelled from parliament in February 2006 on allegations of corruption, which he denied. He then moved to Syria.

Al-Zawraa has had numerous run-ins with Arab and American authorities over its content. In January 2007, a U.S. government official told Variety, “We are very concerned about this. Al-Zawraa is glorifying the killing of American and Iraqi government officials, which we strongly object to. This needs to be taken care of” (Daily Variety, Jan. 14, 2007).

The following month Egyptian authorities yanked the satcaster off its state-run Nilesat platform (Daily Variety, Feb. 26, 2007).